Uncommon Friendships explores the often-overlooked dynamic of interreligious friendships, considering their significance for how we think about contemporary religious thought. By exploring the dynamics of three relationships between important religious thinkers-Franz Rosenzweig and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Emmanuel Levinas and Maurice Blanchot, and Julia Kristeva and Catherine Clement-this study demonstrates the ways such friendships enable innovation and transformation within religious traditions.
For each pair of thinkers, the sustained engagement and disagreement between them becomes central to their religious and philosophical development, helping them to respond effectively and creatively to issues and problems facing their communities and societies. Through a rereading of their work, Young shows how such friendships can help us rethink religion, aesthetics, education, and politics-as well as friendship itself.
An utterly remarkable treatise on the inter-religious friendships that joined three pairs of the great thinkers of twentieth-century Europe. I know of nothing quite like this. It is rigorous scholarship that has the sharp edge of cultural criticism and yet the inspiring effect of a philosophic and spiritual poem. Its lesson is indeed uncommon: that critical reason is strengthened by love, that love is deepened by undomesticated difference, and that, in a quiet way, the name of God may have a lot to do with all of the above.
University of Virginia
An elegantly written and intellectually engaging study, William Young's Uncommon Friendships offers a refreshing portrayal of the praxis of friendship and its ability to operate as a key element in the development of ideas generally and in efforts towards inter-religious dialogue in particular. Young's lucid descriptions of the long-term intellectual engagements between Rosenstock/Rosenzweig, Levinas/Blanchot, Kristeva/Clement highlight the embodied, creative, and often unsettling affects of friendship upon the evolution of an intellectual work. Young's book deepens our understanding of the social character of knowledge and challenges readers to consider the value of a praxis of friendship as a check upon solipsism and the drive for truth and as a tool for cultivating patient listening and an openness regarding the contingency of our beliefs.
George Mason University